Anger at Polish builders squatting in Army homes – using British law to live there for free

Polish building workers are squatting in Army homes – using British law to live there for nothing.

The three Eastern European men moved into a Ministry of Defence semi-detached house next to dozens of Service families three weeks ago.

Neighbours claimed the trio did a recce the weekend before they broke in at the rear of the four-bedroom property, which has heating, gas, lighting and a cooker in the fitted kitchen.

Two other Polish men left the house next door recently after squatting there for a fortnight. They were also thought to have been doing cash-in-hand building work in the area.
The house in Whetstone, north London, has been taken over by Polish squatters following the departure of the previous tenants

The house in Whetstone, north London, has been taken over by Polish squatters following the departure of the previous tenants

A third house on an adjoining Forces housing estate has been occupied in the past few months by Polish migrants, despite MoD claims that ‘less than a handful’ of its 49,000 UK properties contain squatters.

The squatters’ presence has infuriated Army families living in the same street – particularly as the availability of military homes is currently limited because of an extensive refurbishment programme.

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MAIL COMMENT: Polish squatters in Army houses

One NCO who is retiring from the Army said it was unfair he was being forced to quit his military house while a few doors away the Polish men had moved in without permission.

When The Mail on Sunday called at the squatted house, in the North London suburb of Whetstone, the door was answered by a shaven-headed, 6ft 2in man who gave his name as Marek Choma.

Mr Choma, 34, was unapologetic about living for free in a property that would command rent of more than £2,500 a month on the open market.

He said: ‘I don’t like the word squatter. We are living here legally. We found this place and we moved in about a month ago.’
Two young men seen entering the house in Whetstone

Two young men seen entering the house in Whetstone

Asked how he and his fellow Poles, ‘Tom’ and a man whose name was not given, had gained entry to the house, Mr Choma smiled and rolled his eyes.

Speaking in perfect English, he added confidently: ‘You cannot come in, because if you do you will be trespassing.’

Mr Choma then pointed to a ‘Legal Warning’ notice taped to the hall wall, advising visitors of squatters’ rights under Section 6 of the 1977 Criminal Law Act. The notice – downloaded from the internet – had been stuck to the front door earlier in the day.

It warned that if anyone attempted to enter the house using violence they could ‘receive a sentence of up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000’.

Mr Choma, who has lived in Britain for five years, admitted he had a wife and young child staying at another property in South London. Asked why he was living in the Army house, he replied: ‘This area is where the work is. Before, I worked for the Royal Mail but I lost my job.’ He refused to say why.

A sergeant from a Guards regiment living in the same row of houses, who is due to leave the Army after more than 20 years’ service, said: ‘I am getting kicked out of my house in a month.

‚My wife and I tried to stay on here because we’re near the school where my son is about to take his GCSEs. But we’ve been told by the Army that we’ve got to go. Those are the rules. We offered to pay them a proper rent, but it made no difference.

‘But there are no rules for these Polish guys a few doors away. They are living in an Army house for nothing. It’s appalling.’

The NCO said the Army homes were ‘easy prey’ because it was simple to gain entry through weak locks and doors at the rear of the properties.

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, a former infantry officer, said: ‘Conditions of service for our soldiers and their families are difficult enough already. The last thing they need is squatters in military property when such houses are at a premium for our own troops.’

The MoD said legal action was in place to remove the squatters ‘as a matter of urgency’.

It added: ‘Squatting is not a widespread problem for Service accommodation, as empty properties are protected where appropriate and the very few instances that do occur are dealt with immediately.

‚The MoD will always need to maintain a margin of empty properties in order to ensure that homes are available for entitled families when required.’

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